The largest three airlines in the United States are banning hoverboards on flights due to concerns about potential fires aboard commercial jets. Delta, United and American airlines, known collectively as the “Big 3,” have announced hoverboard bans ahead of a holiday season where 38 million passengers are expected to take flights. The airlines said they are concerned about the lithium ion batteries that are used to power hoverboards potentially sparking fires.
“Poorly labeled, powerful lithium-ion batteries powering hoverboards are the issue,” the Delta statement continued. “Delta reviewed hoverboard product specifications and found that manufacturers do not consistently provide detail about the size or power of their lithium-ion batteries.”
Lithium batteries have been a topic of concern in aviation circles since a series of incidents involving Boeing’s 787 “Dreamliner” jets during its 2013 rollout drew attention to problems with transporting the devices on airplanes.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a safety alert for flight operators earlier this year to encourage airlines to inform passengers at the point of ticket purchases and check-in that lithium batteries are prohibited in checked and carry-on luggage.
Delta said its investigation of hoverboards “revealed devices often contain battery varieties above the government mandated 160 watt hour limit permitted aboard aircraft.
“While occurrences are uncommon, these batteries can spontaneously overheat and pose a fire hazard risk,” the airline said. “In addition to the 160 watt hour or less requirement for lithium ion batteries, any spare batteries (or any battery not already installed into an electronic device) must be in carry-on baggage, and no more than two spares are allowed.”
United and American airlines have moved to enact similar hoverboard bans, according to multiple media reports.